Monday, August 27, 2007

U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad Says that George W. Bush Is the Worst Possible President

U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says that his boss George W. Bush is not just the worst president America has ever had, but the worst president he can conceive of. He is truly far gone into shrill unholy madness.

We turn the mike over to Roger Cohen:

The MacArthur Lunch - New York Times: Zalmay Khalilzad... has fared better than most of the Bush brigade. As a Beirut-educated, Farsi-speaking Sunni Muslim, he actually has a clue about the Islamic world.... In his shepherding of Hamid Karzai to power in Kabul, his forging of Sunni cooperation now bearing fruit in Iraq’s Anbar Province, and in his recent prodding of the U.N. to a fuller Iraqi role....

I was intrigued to find Zal looking back in anguish. President Bush now alludes to “the mistakes that have been made,” but is unspecific. There’s such an array, everyone has a favorite: a nonexistent casus belli, skimpy troop levels, the end of the Iraqi army, aberrant planning.

Khalilzad’s anguish centers on May 6, 2003. That’s the day he expected Bush to announce his return to Iraq to convene a grand assembly — something like an Afghan loya jirga — that would fast-forward a provisional Iraqi government. Instead, the appointment of L. Paul Bremer III to head a Coalition Provisional Authority was announced. Khalilzad, incredulous, went elsewhere. In the place of an Afghan-American Muslim on a mission to empower Iraqis, we got the former ambassador to the Netherlands for a one-year proconsul gig. “We had cleared both announcements, with Bremer to run things and me to convene the loya jirga, both as presidential envoys,” Khalilzad told me. “We were just playing with a few final words. Then the game plan suddenly changed: we would run the country ourselves.... Powell and Condi were incredulous. Powell called me and asked: ‘What happened?’ And I said, ‘You’re secretary of state and you’re asking me what happened!’ ”

Powell confirmed his astonishment. “The plan was for Zal to go back,” he said. “He was the one guy who knew this place better than anyone. I thought this was part of the deal with Bremer. But with no discussion, no debate, things changed. I was stunned.”

The volte-face came at a Bush- Bremer lunch that day where Bremer made a unity of command argument to the Decider. “I put it very directly to the president: you can’t have two presidential envoys running around Iraq,” Bremer told me....

Khalilzad[:]... "We could have had an interim Iraqi government. I argued, based on Afghanistan, that with forces, diplomacy and money, nothing can happen anyway without your support.”

Powell agrees. “Everything was Bremer, the suit, the boots, the whole nine yards.” It was a mistake not to move “more rapidly to putting an Iraqi face on it.”

Khalilzad and Powell are right.... This was the sledgehammer approach. And chosen over lunch. “Unfortunately, yes, the way that decision was taken was typical,” Powell said. “Done! No full deliberations. And you suddenly discover, gee, maybe that wasn’t so great, we should have thought about it a little longer”...

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Duncan Black Is Shriller than Ever at George W. Bush and Thomas Friedman

Wow. Duncan Black speaks:

Eschaton: Suck On This: The significance of Friedman's "Suck On This" isn't simply his buffoonery and that of our entire media discourse. I don't imagine that Charlie Rose is playing on every teevee in Iraq, but even the liberal Tom Friedman was channeling what was a pretty common sentiment at the time, and one which he had expressed in one way or another in even the liberal New York Times. In Little Tommy's flat world, such sentiments cross borders and can be picked up by people in other countries. Amazing, I know. And, so, Iraqis and other people in Middle East can jump to the shocking conclusion (one might call it a "conspiracy theory!") that maybe we didn't go to Iraq to topple Saddam, or for our security, or weapons of mass destruction, or for humanitarian reasons. We went to Iraq, as the very serious Tom Friedman put it, to go door to door and bust the heads of some Iraqis because a bunch of Saudis had flown planes into buildings about 18 months before that. Now if this cunning plan doesn't make much sense to you, or at the very least you perceive that it might contain the seeds of its own undoing, it's because you lack the Mustache of Understanding which gives you the insights necessary to spend a full hour with Charlie Rose or write two columns a week for the very serious New York Times.

For those of us who were alive during the glorious 2002 summer of war, this was essentially the conservative blogosphere's reason for going to war, before we all got distracted trying to chase down and refute the reams of bullshit coming out of the White House about weapons and al Qaeda connections and blah blah blah. I believe Steven de Beste wrote a 3 million word essay, linked to and praised by everyone, which could've been shortened to "We need to tell them to suck on this."

No one could have predicted that this was a bad idea! No one could have predicted that arming multiple sides in sectarian conflict could have negative consequences! No one could have predicted that a government hiding in the US controlled green zone might lack legitimacy!

Though, truly, no one could have predicted that the president would find solace in historical parallels to Vietnam...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jonathan Chait Is Driven into Shrillness by William Kristol

Somehow my first reaction to it is: "This is news?"

The Thuggery Of William Kristol: IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE that, not so long ago, neoconservative foreign policy thinking overflowed with ideas and idealism. The descent has been steep, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the pages of The Weekly Standard--particularly in William Kristol's editorials, which have come to consist of stubborn denials of any bad news, diatribes about internal enemies, and harangues against the cowardice of Republican dissenters....

The notion that TNR published a Diarist merely for the edification of readers, rather than to advance a political agenda, did not occur to Kristol, because he could not imagine doing any such thing himself. He once explained his belief in the philosopher Leo Strauss to journalist Nina Easton thusly: "One of the main teachings is that all politics are limited and none of them is really based on the truth." Whether or to what degree Beauchamp's Diarist is true could not matter less to him.

Two years ago, my colleague Lawrence Kaplan--who once co-authored, with Kristol, a book arguing for the war--wrote a poignant cover story describing how the dream of creating a liberal Arab state had died. Kristol, naturally, denounced his inconvenient observation. "The fact remains that it is today more possible than ever before to envision a future in which the Middle East and the Muslim world truly are transformed," he insisted. "For this, no one will deserve more credit than George W. Bush." Of course, this was an opinion, not a "fact." But the failure to distinguish between fact and opinion is typical of his mentality....

Then there is Kristol's accusation that critics of the war don't "support the troops." I wonder if, back in his youthful days teaching political philosophy, Kristol ever imagined he would one day find himself mouthing knucklehead slogans like this. I shouldn't need to say this, but apparently I do: I strongly support and respect the troops and would desperately like them to succeed. My respect, unlike Kristol's, extends to soldiers who don't share my politics, and isn't contingent on the fantasy that all of them are saints....

The theme of traitorous liberals is becoming a Standard trope. Last week's cover depicted an American soldier seen from behind and inside a circular lens--as if caught in the sights of a hostile sniper--beneath the headline, "DOES WASHINGTON HAVE HIS BACK?" The Weimar-era German right adopted the metaphor of liberals stabbing soldiers in the back. Kristol is embracing the metaphor of liberals shooting soldiers in the back. I suppose this is progress, of sorts.

There was a time when neoconservatives sought to hold the moral and intellectual high ground. There was something inspiring in their vision of America as a different kind of superpower--a liberal hegemon deploying its might on behalf of subjugated peoples.... Kristol's good standing in the Washington establishment depends on the wink-and-nod awareness that he's too smart to believe his own agitprop. Perhaps so. But, in the end, a fake thug is not much better than the real thing.

My second reaction is that the Jonathan Chait who believes that "not long ago... neoconservative foreign policy thinking overflowed with ideas and idealism" has clearly not been paying attention:

First the neoconservatives came for the Salvadorean archbishop, and I was silent, because I was not a Salvadorean archbishop.
Next the neoconservatives came for the Maryknoll nuns, and I was silent, because I was not a Maryknoll nun.
Then the neoconservatives came for this who wanted to trust Gorbachov, and I was silent, because I was not Gorbachov.
Then the neoconservatives came for the Clinton Health Care Task Force, and I was silent, because I was not on the Clinton Health Care Task Force.
Then the neoconservatives came to gin up a cold war with China, and I was silent, because I knew little about China.
And now that the neoconservatives come for *New Republic

Robert Reich is Shrill

The Against Vietnam before He was for It in Chief drives Robert Reich to shrillness:

Bush Finally Admits Iraq is like Vietnam …But most Americans know the truth. Not only did we have no strategy once we got to Vietnam but we had no good reason to be in Vietnam in the first place. Tens of thousands of American lives and countless Vietnamese lives were lost because we wrongly assumed that communism in Southeast Asia was a contagion that would spread unless eradicated by force. Yet for the last four years we have heard the same words we heard from Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara forty years ago – that we are “winning” in Iraq, that we must “stay the course” there, that “leaving would be tantamount to defeat,” that “America’s credibility” is at stake, that a “pullout would be disastrous.” And today, seemingly without comprehending the close parallels between the bloodbath America caused by entering Vietnam more than four decades ago and the bloodbath he caused by entering Iraq, our president has the audacity to tell us that our withdrawal from Iraq would result in a bloodbath similar to that caused by our withdrawal from Vietnam. The apparent stupidity of this man -- or his assumption of the stupidity of the American people -- is unfathomable.

"Arm Yourselves Against the Insanity"

The Deceiver in Chief sends Rick Perlstein over the edge of shrillness:

Bright, shining lies | Campaign for America's Future By Rick Perlstein: Since the 1970s, the American right has circulated a series of lies about how the liberals who ended the war in Vietnam were the ones responsible for the humanitarian catastrophes caused by the war in Vietnam. Today a draft-dodger from that war has degraded the presidency by making these lies his own.
I have debunked them in the past here, here, here, and here. Arm yourselves against the insanity.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Joe Klein Is Shrill!

Good to see!

READ THIS NOW! - Swampland - TIME: This is the most accurate and courageous--the authors are all non-commissioned officers--account of the war in Iraq that I've seen. It puts to shame--and shame is the appropriate word--all the Kristol, McCain, Lieberman, Pollack and O'Hanlon etc etc cheerleading of the past two months. I'll have more to say about the road out of Iraq in my print column this week.

Here is what he is talking about:


VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Similarly, Sunnis, who have been underrepresented in the new Iraqi armed forces, now find themselves forming militias, sometimes with our tacit support. Sunnis recognize that the best guarantee they may have against Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated government is to form their own armed bands. We arm them to aid in our fight against Al Qaeda.

However, while creating proxies is essential in winning a counterinsurgency, it requires that the proxies are loyal to the center that we claim to support. Armed Sunni tribes have indeed become effective surrogates, but the enduring question is where their loyalties would lie in our absence. The Iraqi government finds itself working at cross purposes with us on this issue because it is justifiably fearful that Sunni militias will turn on it should the Americans leave.

In short, we operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies, one where the balance of forces on the ground remains entirely unclear. (In the course of writing this article, this fact became all too clear: one of us, Staff Sergeant Murphy, an Army Ranger and reconnaissance team leader, was shot in the head during a “time-sensitive target acquisition mission” on Aug. 12; he is expected to survive and is being flown to a military hospital in the United States.) While we have the will and the resources to fight in this context, we are effectively hamstrung because realities on the ground require measures we will always refuse — namely, the widespread use of lethal and brutal force.

Given the situation, it is important not to assess security from an American-centered perspective. The ability of, say, American observers to safely walk down the streets of formerly violent towns is not a resounding indicator of security. What matters is the experience of the local citizenry and the future of our counterinsurgency. When we take this view, we see that a vast majority of Iraqis feel increasingly insecure and view us as an occupation force that has failed to produce normalcy after four years and is increasingly unlikely to do so as we continue to arm each warring side.

Coupling our military strategy to an insistence that the Iraqis meet political benchmarks for reconciliation is also unhelpful. The morass in the government has fueled impatience and confusion while providing no semblance of security to average Iraqis. Leaders are far from arriving at a lasting political settlement. This should not be surprising, since a lasting political solution will not be possible while the military situation remains in constant flux.

The Iraqi government is run by the main coalition partners of the Shiite-dominated United Iraqi Alliance, with Kurds as minority members. The Shiite clerical establishment formed the alliance to make sure its people did not succumb to the same mistake as in 1920: rebelling against the occupying Western force (then the British) and losing what they believed was their inherent right to rule Iraq as the majority. The qualified and reluctant welcome we received from the Shiites since the invasion has to be seen in that historical context. They saw in us something useful for the moment.

Now that moment is passing, as the Shiites have achieved what they believe is rightfully theirs. Their next task is to figure out how best to consolidate the gains, because reconciliation without consolidation risks losing it all. Washington’s insistence that the Iraqis correct the three gravest mistakes we made — de-Baathification, the dismantling of the Iraqi Army and the creation of a loose federalist system of government — places us at cross purposes with the government we have committed to support.

Political reconciliation in Iraq will occur, but not at our insistence or in ways that meet our benchmarks. It will happen on Iraqi terms when the reality on the battlefield is congruent with that in the political sphere. There will be no magnanimous solutions that please every party the way we expect, and there will be winners and losers. The choice we have left is to decide which side we will take. Trying to please every party in the conflict — as we do now — will only ensure we are hated by all in the long run.

At the same time, the most important front in the counterinsurgency, improving basic social and economic conditions, is the one on which we have failed most miserably. Two million Iraqis are in refugee camps in bordering countries. Close to two million more are internally displaced and now fill many urban slums. Cities lack regular electricity, telephone services and sanitation. “Lucky” Iraqis live in gated communities barricaded with concrete blast walls that provide them with a sense of communal claustrophobia rather than any sense of security we would consider normal.

In a lawless environment where men with guns rule the streets, engaging in the banalities of life has become a death-defying act. Four years into our occupation, we have failed on every promise, while we have substituted Baath Party tyranny with a tyranny of Islamist, militia and criminal violence. When the primary preoccupation of average Iraqis is when and how they are likely to be killed, we can hardly feel smug as we hand out care packages. As an Iraqi man told us a few days ago with deep resignation, “We need security, not free food.”

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Until that happens, it would be prudent for us to increasingly let Iraqis take center stage in all matters, to come up with a nuanced policy in which we assist them from the margins but let them resolve their differences as they see fit. This suggestion is not meant to be defeatist, but rather to highlight our pursuit of incompatible policies to absurd ends without recognizing the incongruities.

We need not talk about our morale. As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through.

Buddhika Jayamaha is an Army specialist. Wesley D. Smith is a sergeant. Jeremy Roebuck is a sergeant. Omar Mora is a sergeant. Edward Sandmeier is a sergeant. Yance T. Gray is a staff sergeant. Jeremy A. Murphy is a staff sergeant.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Joshua Micah Marshall Is Very Unhappy with the Los Angeles Times

It is one of those stories that you would condemn as unbelievable and unrealistic if you were to see it acted upon the stage. Josh writes:

Talking Points Memo | Annals of Reporting:[T]this morning I was alerted to an opinion column in the Los Angeles Times by Michael Skube.... The sum of the piece is that the blogosphere is as rife with disputation as it is thin on information, or more specifically, reporting, writing that demands "time, thorough fact-checking and verification and, most of all, perseverance."... [I]n a column bewailing how blogs don't do any real reporting one of the four bloggers he mentioned was me.... I sent Skube an email telling him that I found it hard to believe he was very familiar with TPM if he was including us as examples in a column about the dearth of original reporting in the blogosphere.... I got a reply: "I didn't put your name into the piece and haven't spent any time on your site. So to that extent I'm happy to give you benefit of the doubt..."

This seemed more than a little odd since, as I said, he certainly does use me as an example -- along with Sullivan, Matt Yglesias and Kos. So I followed up noting my surprise that... he wrote about sites he admits he'd never read.

To which I got this response: "I said I did not refer to you in the original. Your name was inserted late by an editor who perhaps thought I needed to cite more examples..."

And this is from someone who teaches journalism?

And Matthew Yglesias says:

time for another weblogger ethics panel!

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Washington Post Has Driven Matthew Yglesias into Shrill Unholy Madness!

Yglesias writes:

Matthew Yglesias: I suppose in some sense it's better that it's now The Washington Post's dollars that are going to pay Michael Gerson to lie on George W. Bush's behalf rather than our tax dollars, but the paper should really consider sitting him down and reminding him that while "lying on behalf of George W. Bush" is the key task of a Bush administration aide, a newspaper columnist should be doing something else. I mean, what are we supposed to make of this?

First, Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. "We were founded as a reformist party," he said in our conversation this week, "not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead." The models he cites are 401(k)s and the mortgage interest deduction -- government policies that encouraged individual wealth and ownership. Then Rove spent several minutes describing, with wonkish delight, the momentum and virtues of health savings accounts, a Bush-era innovation allowing individuals to save tax-free for routine medical expenses.

Look, I dunno. It's mean to call people liars. And probably inappropriate. I have no real basis for my beliefs about Gerson's mental state. Maybe he's just ignorant. Maybe he has no idea that all of these programs provide much more assistance to rich people than they do to poor people. Maybe he has absolutely no idea what he's talking about. But that's bad, too. 401(k)s aren't a way to help the little guy get ahead. Neither is the mortgage interest deduction. Neither are Health Savings Accounts. These are all ways to sharply reduce the taxes of rich people.

If Karl Rove ever described these programs "with wonkish delight" as a way to help the little guy get ahead, then the moral of the story is that Rove is a moron, unfamiliar with the basic aspects of public policy. More likely, Rove knew exactly what he was doing and saw promotion of these policies as just the sort of cynical move Gerson denies Rove would ever contemplate -- a way to mislead voters into supporting a political agenda aimed at securing the interests of the rich. But what's Gerson doing? Why is the Post publishing these columns? The White House has its own press operation.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Yes, he is shrill.

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: THE WASHINGTON POST OP-ED CLOWN SHOW: Rivaling the Wall Street Journal editorialists in the flaunting of ignorance: Uggabugga tunes out David Broder's adoration of Fred Thompson; Barry Ritholtz notes that Robert Novak is stuck in neutral; George Will gives a definition and examples of "moral hazard" that . . . aren't. Someone ought to alert him to Google or Wikipedia. All on the same day. It's a trifecta.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Bush Administration Drives Rahm Emanuel Shrill!

Rahm says, about the September "surge report":

Quote Of The Day | TPMCafe: After years of slogans and soundbites Americans deserve an even-handed assessment of conditions in Iraq. Sadly, we will only receive a snapshot from the same people who told us the mission was accomplished and the insurgency was in its last throes. We’ve spent hundreds of billions of dollars and lost thousands of lives in Iraq. An honest report from our generals and diplomats about the status of the war isn’t too much to ask...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

CNBC Anchor Erin Burnett Drives Hunter of DailyKos into Shrillness

It is unbelievable. As best as I can see, she says that if China stops making poisonous products, inflation will rise and her home equity interest rate will go up:

Daily Kos: The Economic Upside To Lead Paint and Tainted Food? Value!: by Hunter: Mon Aug 13, 2007 at 11:19:02 AM PDT: CNBC anchor Erin Burnett, on Friday's Hardball:

A lot of people like to say, scaremonger about China, right? A lot of politicians and I know you talk about that issue all the time. I think people should be careful what they wish for on China -- you know, if China were to revalue its currency, or China is to start making, say, toys that don't have lead in them, or food that isn't poisonous, their costs of production are going to go up. And that means prices at Walmart, here in the United States, are going to go up too. So, I would say China is our greatest friend right now.They're keeping prices low, and they're keeping prices for mortgages low too.

Please make it stop. It burns. It buuuuurns.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rick Perlstein Hosts an "Accountability Moment" for David Broder

It's not pretty. But it is shrill: >"they take their right to privacy seriously" | Campaign for America's Future: Always useful to have these pundit accountability momements. Here's David Broder the week after George Bush's reelection... >>before throwing yourself over a cliff or emigrating to Sweden, consider a couple of things. George W. Bush was reelected by 51 percent of the people. His first significant action following Election Day was to retain Andrew Card, a Massachusetts-based business moderate, as his chief of staff. His second was to accept the resignation of John Ashcroft, the hero of the religious right and the favorite bogeyman of civil libertarians, as attorney general. Ashcroft's replacement, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, will receive close scrutiny from Democratic senators, but almost all of them who commented said they welcomed the choice. That's a funny way to start "another dark age." >Republicans will hold 55 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Among them are many, including such conservatives as Pat Roberts and Thad Cochran, whom I would trust to defend my journalistic freedom -- or Dowd's -- no matter how much they disagreed with what we wrote. I can count two dozen Senate Republicans who have experienced with their own families and friends the pain of mental or physical illness, or poverty, or racial or sexual discrimination. Do you think they would stand silent while a vendetta against any of those groups was carried out? >Republicans won 53 percent of the seats in the House. Their caucus is dominated by conservatives, but -- this may come as a shock -- all conservatives are not of one mind. Freed from the constraints of a presidential election year, some of them will pester Bush to get serious about budget deficits. Some will urge him to take a cue from Arnold Schwarzenegger and rethink his restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. And some self-described "real right-wingers" from states as red as Idaho will insist on changes in the USA Patriot Act before it is renewed, because they take their right to privacy seriously...

CapitalistImperialistPig Is Shriller Because of Robert Samulson

The porcellino writes:

CapitalistImperialistPig: Both Sides Now: Overdue for Newsweek to Lose the Egregiously Dishonest Robert Samuelson: Last week Newsweek ran a great news cover story on the continuing efforts of the global warming deniers to obscure, obfuscate, and lie about the evidence of anthropogenic global warming. This uncharacteristic feat of journalistic honesty must have rankled some of the dinosaurs lurking in the WaPo's icy journamalistic heart, because this week Robert Samuelson employs his column in the same magazine to attack the piece. The attack is striking mainly for the blatant dishonesty of its approach, though that's hardly a surprise to those who have watched Samuelson, bob, weave, and distort to the wing-nut tune these many years.

Samuelson says:

The story was a wonderful read, marred only by its being fundamentally misleading.

So, exactly how was it "fundamentally misleading?" Samuelson next spends four paragraphs avoiding the question with a riff on an at best peripherally related but interesting question: what can be done about global warming. His answer: nothing. Doh!

But let us not be distracted so easily. He attacked the story, why? Four paragraphs down:

Against these real-world pressures, NEWSWEEK's "denial machine" is a peripheral and highly contrived story. NEWSWEEK implied, for example, that ExxonMobil used a think tank to pay academics to criticize global-warming science. Actually, this accusation was long ago discredited, and NEWSWEEK shouldn't have lent it respectability. (The company says it knew nothing of the global-warming grant, which involved issues of climate modeling. And its 2006 contribution to the think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, was small: $240,000 out of a $28 million budget.)

Every sentence in this paragraph contains a lie, except possibly the last. Sharon Begley's story reported (not "implied")what has long been known and well documented: that Exxon Mobile, the American Petroleum Council, and an allied group of energy interests have orchestrated, coordinated, planned and funded a network of denialist think tanks, "institutes," councils, politicians, and individuals with the sole purpose of discrediting the scientific evidence for global warming. That last sentence in his paragraph, while possibly accurate in isolation, is nonetheless equally dishonest, since it attempts to portray one small part of a huge campaign as representing the whole.

Except for that slim, deeply dishonest paragraph, the rest of the column is an unexceptional discussion of why it would be hard to do anything about global warming. If I were slightly more paranoid, I would think that the sinister hand of Donald Graham had slipped that paragraph into a boring story.

Noam Scheiber of the New Republic and Mike Huckabee Drive BooMan Shrill!

He writes:

Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community: You may not have heard of Mike Huckabee, but he is running for president of the United States of America. Huckabee served as the Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He's a social conservative that served as chairman of the National Governors’ Association and chairman of the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission. He doesn't have much money or name recognition but he just scored a strong second place in the Ames, Iowa Republican Straw Poll. By besting Sen. Sam Brownback, he can expect to take up the banner of anti-women extremists within the Republican Party. It could be enough for him to win the Iowa caucuses and make some waves in the presidential race. Noam Scheiber has some analysis in The New Republic, but the most interesting part was his description of the attitude of the press to Huckabee's strong showing.

A final thought: The political press is absolutely head over heels for Huckabee. (There were high-fives all around when it became clear he'd finish second.) He's a genuinely endearing guy who can banter with the best of them--watching him with reporters brings to mind the old black and white footage of Babe Ruth jawboning with sportswriters. When you add that to the political media's general affinity for underdogs, you can see how Huckabee's about to enjoy some serious media afterglow, which will only further boost his profile. I would really like it if Noam Scheiber would name names. Which reporters were exchanging high-fives over Mike Huckabee's success? Who are these people and what the hell is wrong with them?

Look at this dude:

I first became politically active because of abortion, when I helped pass Arkansas' Unborn Child Amendment, which requires the state to do whatever it legally can to protect life.

As Governor, I did all I could to protect life. The many pro-life laws I got through my Democrat legislature are the accomplishments that give me the most pride and personal satisfaction.

Repeat after me: Mike Huckabee is a W-I-N-G-N-U-T. Don't believe me? Look at this:

I consistently opposed banning assault weapons and opposed the Brady Bill.

As Governor, I protected gun manufacturers from frivolous law suits.

I was the first Governor in the country to have a concealed handgun license.

Like his position on abortion and guns? How about gay rights?

I support and have consistently supported passage of a federal constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

As Governor of Arkansas, I led the successful effort to pass a similar state constitutional amendment in 2002.

Huckabee is an assault gun loving religious extremist. He's also a nice person that makes friends easily with reporters... kind of like Babe Ruth. It's hard to overstate how inappropriate it is for print journalists to be high-fiving each other over the political success of any politician. But a gay-bashing, woman-hating, assault-rifle toting, religious nutcase? I want names.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Attack of the Subordinates!! Michael Gerson Under Fire

Matt Scully says that ex-Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson kisses up, kicks down:

The Atlantic Online | September 2007 | Present at the Creation | Matthew Scully: In a January 2006 piece, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave the standard portrait:

A devout Christian known to lead fellow staffers in prayer, Gerson is what colleagues call a writer’s writer, a big-picture thinker with an instinct for the broad sweep of history who melds the mind of a policy wonk with the heart of a poet.

He is surely the only member of our presidential speechwriting fraternity as celebrated for his moral example as for his literary inspirations. A couple of years ago, Time magazine even named the “President’s Spiritual Scribe” one of the “25 most influential evangelicals” in America, placing Mike in the company of Billy Graham.

“Leading staffers in prayer” might not have been a bad idea, but in our White House speechwriting office it never happened—unless it was the practice to get the morning oblations out of the way before I showed up. Yet even to point out such errors was futile: the “spiritual scribe” served some larger purpose for the media, as a character of their own invention as much as of his own, and attempts at correction only intruded on a private and mutually satisfying arrangement.

My favorite example came in a piece by Bob Woodward and two other Washington Post reporters. The writer’s writer and the reporter’s reporter spent a lot of time together, and whatever Bob got out of the deal you could always find Mike’s reward in print. There had been a September 13, 2001, Oval Office meeting attended by adviser Karen Hughes and three speechwriters—Mike, John McConnell, and me. Early in the meeting President Bush said to us, “We’re at war”—an exact quote, and not the sort of moment easily forgotten. In The Washington Post account, however, the rest of us have vanished, and the president declares, “Mike, we’re at war.”

One word, and history is changed. And not only have colleagues been cleared out, but the attention of Woodward’s readers isn’t even on the president anymore. Things like this happened all the time with Mike—crowded rooms and collaborative efforts gave way, in the retelling, to the self-involved spectacle of one.

Then there was Mike’s Newsweek account last year of the high drama he experienced trying to get into Washington on September 11, while “my evacuated staff” near the White House was doing, well, whatever. (That would be us, his colleagues, who contributed the sole line in that evening’s address, drafted by Karen Hughes, that anyone remembers: “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”) Mike never made it into town that day, but that doesn’t prevent him, in his own version, from staying at the center of events—a position from which even the president, as Mike put it in Newsweek, looked “stiff and small.”

“Gerson is a ‘planner,’ not a ‘plunger,’” a 2005 National Journal profile noted, “meaning that he makes a meticulous outline, which he consults during the writing process.” This is true, and equal care and intensity went into crafting the Gerson image. Colleagues were not in the outline, nor were the normal standards of discretion in White House speechwriting. People have a way of disappearing in Mike’s stories. The artful shaping of narrative and editing out of inconvenient detail was never confined to the speechwriting. (The phrase pulling a Gerson, as I recently heard it used around the West Wing, does not refer to graceful writing.) And though in Heroic Conservatism Mike has doubtless offered a kind word or two for speechwriting colleagues, no man I have ever encountered was truer to the saying that, in Washington, one should never take friendship personally.

Woodward’s trilogy about the Bush years is a tale of speechwriting glory that Mike himself could hardly improve upon. Remember those powerful and moving addresses the president gave after September 11? According to Woodward’s State of Denial, Mike wrote all of those speeches by himself—and if there were other speechwriters, well, they must not have made it back from the evacuation:

Gerson, a 40-year-old evangelical Christian who had majored in theology at evangelist Billy Graham’s alma mater, Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, had written all of Bush’s memorable post-9/11 speeches, including the one he gave at Washington’s National Cathedral on September 14, 2001—“This conflict has begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour of our choosing”—as well as his remarks before a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001: “Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign.” Gerson had written Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech identifying Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an “Axis of Evil” connecting terrorism with weapons of mass destruction, and had also come up with the intellectual and historical roots for Bush’s “preemption” doctrine speech, delivered at West Point in June 2002—“The war on terrorism will not be won on the defensive.”

How do I break the news to Bob Woodward that his high-placed source wrote not a single one of the lines quoted above, at best a third of any of the speeches he mentions, and that the National Cathedral address was half-written before Mike even entered the room?

Without fear of contradiction—because it’s all in the presidential records—I can report here that Michael Gerson never wrote a single speech by himself for President Bush. From beginning to end, every notable speech, and a huge proportion of the rest, was written by a team of speechwriters, working in the same office and on the same computer. Few lines of note were written by Mike, and none at all that come to mind from the post-9/11 addresses—not even “axis of evil.”

He allowed false assumptions, and also encouraged them. Among chummy reporters, he created a fictionalized, “Mike, we’re at war” version of presidential speechwriting, casting himself in a grand and solitary role. The narrative that Mike Gerson presented to the world is a story of extravagant falsehood. He has been held up for us in six years’ worth of coddling profiles as the great, inspiring, and idealistic exception of the Bush White House. In reality, Mike’s conduct is just the most familiar and depressing of Washington stories—a history of self- seeking and media manipulation that is only more distasteful for being cast in such lofty terms.

There are rewards for such behavior, and in Mike’s case the Washington establishment has raised him up as one of its own—a status complete with a columnist’s perch at The Washington Post. There is a downside, too, measured in the lost esteem of friends and in the tainting of real gifts and achievements. At his best, Mike is a serious man, with an active Christian faith that could be seen in his work as an adviser in the president’s program for helping AIDS and malaria victims in Africa—a vital contribution and well deserving of praise. Yet being a part of such efforts was never reward enough for Mike, and there was always more to the story, always an angle...

Did Mike Gerson just steal all of Matt Scully's work product and claim it as his own, or did he also run over Scully's dog with a Bradley?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Grover Norquist on Cheney's "Penchant for Secrecy "

Grover Norquist: – Comment - Transparency: the new democracy: …[T]he keeper of the executive branch’s privileges against the public’s right to know is Dick Cheney, vice-president. His penchant for secrecy makes Howard Hughes look like Gypsy Rose Lee.

Listening to George Bush Drives Andrew Leonard Shrill

Andrew Leonard watches George Bush avoid talking about the housing crunch:

How the World Works: Globalization, Globalization Blogs - President Bush made some "remarks" on the economy after visiting the Treasury Department on Wednesday. … President Bush did not mention the words "mortgage" or "credit" once. He did not indicate in any way that anything was going on in the U.S. economy right now that might merit concern by anyone. Color me baffled. How does this serve the White House, in terms of tactics? It would be very easy to appear smart about these issues without making any concessions whatsoever to doom-mongering by political opponents. …

Listening to George Bush talk about "the economy" you could imagine he didn't even know there was a housing bust or a credit crunch. I'm almost prepared to believe that of him…

Princeton Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter Is Shrill!!!!

Kevin Drum writes:

The Washington Monthly: [H]ere's what she had to say today over at TPM Cafe:

Here is my nightmare. The Cheneyites succeed in creating a situation in which Bush does decide to bomb Iran. Iran retaliates, as they openly threaten to do, with terrorist attacks against us on U.S. soil. That tilts the election. I can imagine a Karl Rove political calculation that would buttress a Cheney-Addington national security calculation, probably with Eliot Abrams' support.

Let me get this straight. Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the most accomodating, serious, centrist, liberal foreign policy players on the planet, has just said that she thinks it's entirely possible that the Bush administration will launch a foreign war next year in order to help the Republican Party win an election.... [T]he Bush administration is now so widely viewed as unhinged and malignant that even traditionally serious™ people like Anne-Marie Slaughter think nothing of suggesting that they might well start a war with Iran for purely partisan gain. I really can't think of any past administration that would have provoked this kind of reaction from someone of AMS's stature. Journalists should take note.

Ginmar Was and Is Shrill: How to Lose a War in a Few Easy Steps

From August 2005:

ginmar: How to lose a war in a few easy steps: The tactics for winning a war and winning a peace are entirely two different processes. To win a war one has to have several objectives while observing other standards. The primary goal is to defeat the enemy. Why that enemy is one's enemy is a question that sometimes is self-evident. In the case of Saddam Hussein and the invasion of Iraq, it was not. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, for example, could not have any real hope of cooperation. Iraq was a secular society where women could drive, vote, choose to veil or not, and so forth. Bin Laden's vision of society is a theocratic one, much like that of religious extremists in the US. In both visions of this religious Utopia, control of women remains the primary objective and symptom.

Saddam Hussein was a garden variety dictator. Whether this was because he had no ability or inclination remains unknown. He did all the usual things a dictator does; he killed thousands of his own countrymen, tortured and murdered people, and yet he granted them some freedoms not common in the Middle East. Because he refused to restrict women more than he did men, he was viewed with disdain and hatred by more conservative Muslims---or, rather, those people who call themselves Muslims, while living none of its principles. "Let the veil of modesty by on mens' eyes," says the Koran. That requires men to be modest in their desires and their observations of women. Some people in the West cannot grasp this concept. Some people in the Middle East can.

Saddam Hussein was a Sunni Muslim while the majority of his subjects were Shi'ite. Their religious freedoms---the observation of Ashu'ura, for example----were restricted. Iraq also contained many tribes, which to a certain extent trump politics. Tribal loyalty may or may not over-ride other concerns. Think of those conservatives here in the US who claim explicitly or not that the law does not apply to them because they're special or morally correct. This can or cannot happen with tribal loyalty. In good times, the tribe is a background. In bad times, it becomes all the security one might have. Some of the tribes in Iraq contain upward of 2,000 male members. Arm them and you have a regiment---and everyone in Iraq has an AK-47.

Hussein's desire for a secular society also served to keep the mullahs muzzled. The moderates suffered perhaps the most while the extremists nourished their frustration in seething silence. Muqtada Sadr's father Muhammed Sadiq al-Sadr was a rather moderate erudite man who wrote about jurisprudence, among other topics. I've also heard that he wrote about Islamic principles applied to economics. In a dictatorship, moderation and logic can be the real enemies. Saddam had him killed in 1999, and picked off the other members of his family one by one, leaving only Muqtada and his brother Mortada. Reportedly the two brothers despise each other.

Muqtada Sadr was a mediocre student who appeared to have little interest in studying. Suddenly, though, in the anarchy that followed the 2003 invasion he saw an opportunity and recreated himself as a devout Muslim. One gets the sense that he had his father were not fond of one another, but that did not stop him from exploiting his father's name---while he has consistantly employed Saddam Hussein's methods. He is far more conservative and reactionary than is the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Iranian cleric who is the highest-ranking Shi-ite in Iraq. Sadr's men have formed Sharia courts in southern Iraq and have passed sentences and performed executions. Amongst the victims which I personally know of were an unmarried pregnant woman and her four-year old child. The mother was executed in the street with three shots while her child watched. Then the little boy's throat was cut. It takes a fairly long time to die that way. One wonders what his moderate father would think of such things. One knows what Sistani thinks of it: reportedly Sadr was summoned to Sistani's presence in hte fall of 04 and reamed out for visiting such destruction on the Iraqi people.

What does this have to do with war? This is what happens when there is no plan for what follows a war, even a successful one. The tribal structure of Iraq complicates matters to an amazing degree, and it's apparent that this was not factored in when plans were made. The tribes took control of their regions eagerly as they had not been able to do when Saddam was in power. In the vacuum created by Saddam's ouster, this control felt like management.

In war, one wishes to defeat the enemy, causes as few civilian casualties as possible, preserve the lives and welfare of one's soldiers, and move on. One wishes this to be a fast process, and to cost as little as possible. Keep in mind that civilian casualties are inevitable in war, especially if there is a different culture and language to deal with.

To win a peace is very different. To win a peace requires that one study the country and culture at some length and know its political players with some certainty. While Sadr's rise to prominence might not have been predicted, some attention should have been paid to the country's tribal affiliations. As stated earlier, with the country in disarray, the tribes provided structure and organization.

Most critically, maintaing a peace after a war becomes something extremely complicated in a tribal society. In a Muslim tribal society, divided between Sunnis and Shi'ites that has been invaded by a largly Christian country the need for delicacy over rides all others. When one can observe US MPs subduing suspects by placing their feet on them, one can only realize that not enough training was done prior to invasion.

Iraq was moderate and secular: its neighbors most definitely are not. They watched and observed, and saw that the borders were unguarded. They exploited that. From within, the tribal chieftains did the same thing. There are rumors that some tribes are entirely devoted to the insurgency and that some regions are controlled by those same chieftains.

To win the peace, we should have promptly increased troop strength by about two hundred thousand to adequately secure the borders and restore order. The Iraqi Army was dissolved upon Baghdad's fall for fear of Republican Guards in it, yet this promptly causes the unemployment of thousands who had joined the RG because it was compulsory. With no money and no future, these souls looked for options. We did not offer any; the insurgents did.

The first and most important error was the lack of sufficent troops. Without enough troops, the country was not secure or safe, and this has increased exponentially. We cannot guard the border; we cannot patrol enough streets and highways. We cannot hear every grievance, much less fix them. The insurgents kill at least one US soldier per day, and at least a couple Iraqi civilians for every soldier.

Prior to the war, civilians enjoyed relative safety. Please note the use of the word relative. Hussein could and did seize people and his sons were notorious for their raping and murdering. The mass graves have been over-reported: the one in Hilla last year contained four hundred bodies. Against that one has to contrast the effects of the bomb in Hilla in February of this year: 125 people died. Do good intentions make these people any less dead?

After a war, there can be a sense among the general population that everything has changed and no one is in charge. It is imperative that the population know that the foundation of their lives has not changed, and that there are people in charge who have actual power to accomplish things. You patrol the streets, you seal the borders, you get the infrastructure up and running again. You keep the population safe and you let them know that things will be better and that, most of all, the war is over.

Instead the war continues. Iraq's highways are lined with bombs and the craters from their explosions. Its buildings are marked with bullet holes and structural damage caused by bombs. In Baghdad, the violence is unending: westerners cannot venture outof their homes without heavy security. In the larger cities, women are beng threatened and harassed if they do not adopt the veil. Old scores are being settled as civilians regularly turn in their enemies to the authorities for various crimes.

If we could go back in time, we would have a quarter million more troops flood the country after Baghdad's fall, to line the border and secure the museums, the palaces, the bases, and the weapons. No ammo depot in the country would have been unguarded. No admittance to the country without proper documentation would have been allowed. The Army would not have been dissovled, but this time we would have enough personnel to find out who was Saddam's man and who joined the organization because they had to. By cutting off entrance to the country's interior the subsequent exploitation of its unguarded weapons, and by denying it the pool of disgruntled unemployed individuals created by the the dissolution of the Army, we would have started out the peace with a ready-made security force that faced exactly...what? It's easy to overestimate positive responses but the fact is that the Iraqis could not be more hostile in our hypothetical situation than they are. Keep in mind that the Iraqis are some of the nicest people in the world. To arouse their ire is a dubious distinction.

Without security you can accomplish nothing. Security cannot be provided without certain numbers of troops. Therefore you must establish security first. Otherwise you tread water, and the water is heavily mined.

We could still turn the sitution around in Iraq if we had enough troops, but the thing to be kept in mind is that we created this situation, we must fix it, and we cannot do it with the numbers we currently have---or don't have. Putting those boots on the ground, however, would mean admitting to any number of fallacies. Some people think that is too high a price to pay.

Perhaps those people should have a nice long chat with Cindy Sheehan and re-assess their concept of the price one pays for war.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Thoreau Just Gets Angrier and ANGRI3R!!!!


I just keep getting angrier § Unqualified Offerings: I know it isn’t exactly news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured, but this morning’s Washington Post contains yet another report on his torture, including this sickening detail:

Mohammed’s captors also told him shortly after his arrest in March 2003: “We’re not going to kill you. But we’re going to take you to the very brink of your death and back,” the article said.

One of the most striking signs of our government’s complete immorality and incompetence is that they have turned the architect of 9/11 into a victim of human rights abuses. In a saner country, right now we would be gloating over his lawful trial and conviction, patting ourselves on the back for being a country that can bring even the worst of the worst to justice. We would be pointing to his imprisonment as proof that our system works, and pointing to his trial as evidence of our superiority, that we have nothing to hide and nothing to fear from an open airing of the facts. Instead, the Bush administration has put civil libertarians in a position where we can’t speak of the architect of 9/11 without saying “His crimes were horrible, but…”

I don’t want to have to say that “but…” in regard to this most awful of people. Yet we’re in a situation where we have to. That speaks volumes about the madness that has descended upon this country.

George W. Bush Drives Eli Shrill!

Why we oppose the Bushies:

Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » Nothing Succeeds Like Failure : As most of you probably know, yesterday marked the sixth anniversary of the famous “Bin Laden Determined To Strike Inside US” PDB, and Bush’s truly amazing reaction to it. Not “Get me Clarke, Freeh, and Tenet right now - we need to get to work on this ASAP!”, not even “Andy, go delegate this to someone,” but a sneering, dismissive, “All right, you’ve covered your ass.” Can anyone think of another president in American history who would have reacted with such unconcern?

And yet, this spectacular failure, while bad for the country and tragic for the victims and their families, was the best thing that ever happened to Dubya. It allowed him to seize unprecedented executive power, to start a destructive, immoral war (it’s like the world’s biggest frog and the world’s biggest firecracker!), and to get elected to a second term, none of which would have been possible without 9/11.

In fact, his subsequent failures to combat terrorism (no, confiscating nail clippers and invading Iraq do not count) or end the war have served only to tighten his grip on power, as witness the latest rollback of FISA oversight, and the Habeas Corpus Elimination Act before that.

Dubya has transformed failing upward into an art form, first parlaying his business failures into a governorship and the presidency, then parlaying his presidential failures into a near dictatorship. He has got to be the lemonade-makingest man on the planet - but no-one else gets to drink it.

Sure, his popularity is in Nixonland, and Leahy, Waxman, and Conyers are on his case, but none of that really affects him. Thanks to blindly loyal Republicans, clueless Democrats, and co-opted corporate media, he still gets to do whatever he wants. You might even say that this failure thing is working out very well for him.

I wonder where he’d be if he were competent.

(If this post is too depressing, maybe tomorrow’s anniversary will cheer you up…)

Michael O'Hanlon and Ken Pollack Drive Anthony Cordesman Shrill!

Anthony writes:

Horses Mouth August 7, 2007 5:48 PM: It is scarcely surprising that my perceptions of a recent trip to Iraq are different from that of two of my traveling companions and those of several other recent think tank travelers to the country.

From my perspective, the US now has only uncertain, high risk options in Iraq. It cannot dictate Iraq’s future, only influence it, and this presents serious problems at a time when the Iraqi political process has failed to move forward in reaching either a new consensus or some form of peaceful coexistence. It is Iraqis that will shape Iraq's ability or inability to rise above its current sectarian and ethnic conflicts, to redefine Iraq's politics and methods of governance, establish some level of stability and security, and move towards a path of economic recovery and development. So far, Iraq’s national government has failed to act at the rate necessary to move the country forward or give American military action political meaning.

Atrios Is Shrill! It's Charles Krauthammer!

Atrios writes:


Eschaton: By Grapthar's Krauthammer: When these kinds of things happen you wonder if he's lying or misinformed. If he's lying, why does the Post continue to employ him? If he's misinformed, don't you think it hurts the Post's brand by having clueless people associated with it?

No. The Post has no brand.

Here's the moron:

Media Matters - Krauthammer mischaracterized new FISA law as limited to foreign-to-foreign communications: On the August 6 edition of Fox News' Special Report, nationally syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer falsely suggested that the recently approved amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allow the administration to intercept without a warrant only foreign-to-foreign communications that happen to be routed through telecommunications switches in the United States. In fact, the recent changes to FISA also permit warrantless monitoring of Americans' international communications -- so long as the government surveillance is "directed at" someone the government "reasonably believe[s]" to be outside the United States. Indeed, in an August 6 article, The New York Times quoted White House spokesman Tony Fratto as acknowledging, in the Times' words, that "the new law went beyond fixing the foreign-to-foreign problem, potentially allowing the government to listen to Americans calling overseas."

Krauthammer made his statements during the Special Report "All-Star Panel" segment. Asked by guest host Bret Baier about the recently passed FISA amendments and the attached six-month sunset provision, Krauthammer stated that when the legislation comes up for renewal, "the Republicans will win again" on what he called "a slam-dunk issue for the president." Krauthammer then described the bill as follows: "It means that if a bad guy in Pakistan is speaking to a bad guy in London, and if the speech or the email happens to go through a router in the U.S. or computer in the U.S., under the old law you'd have to get a warrant, which is absurd." He added that the new law "fixed" this issue, and in six months, "it will be fixed again."

Mickey Kaus, Charles Krauthammer, James Glassman, Gregg Easterbrook--Michael Kinsley's karmic burden is very heavy indeed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stealing Healthcare from Babies Drives Ronald Brownstein to Shrillness

For Ronald Brownstein, this is shrill:

Stealing healthcare from babies, Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times: …Bush's most outrageous argument is that expanding SCHIP "empower[s] bureaucrats." In reality, covering more children would empower parents like Sheila Miguel of Sun Valley, Calif.

Miguel used to spend hours in emergency rooms trying to obtain asthma medicine for her daughter, Chelsea, but since enrolling her in a SCHIP-funded program, Miguel can take her to reliably scheduled clinic visits.

Bush says he wants "to put more power" over healthcare "in the hands of individuals." By freeing Miguel's family from the worry and drudgery of repeated emergency room visits, that's exactly what SCHIP does.

Few of the lower-income working families that rely on this program have the time to follow this week's legislative struggle, much less analyze how it serves the White House's apparent strategy of embroiling congressional Democrats in unrelenting conflicts with Bush that alienate swing voters. In that political skirmishing, these families have been reduced to collateral damage. They deserve something better from a president who once called himself a "compassionate conservative."

Children of the Corn

Nicholas Kristof is shrill:

I’m Ripping You Off, Nicholas Kristof, New York Times. …One measure of the inanity of our national farm policy is that you, as a taxpayer, are paying me not to grow crops here in Oregon. …

I grew up on a sheep and cherry farm here in Yamhill, Ore., and still have some timberland outside of town. Every year I get paid $588 not to farm it, under the Conservation Reserve Program.

That’s right: taxpayers are subsidizing a New York columnist not to plant crops in a forest in Oregon. …

When I planted new Douglas fir seedlings on my land, care for the young trees was also subsidized. So America provides health care for tree seedlings but not for millions of children.

Maybe uninsured American children who can’t get adequate health care could masquerade as cotton plants or cornstalks. Then the farm bill would shower them with money and care.